Deciding to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is the easy part. Afterall, your needs probably dictated this decision that you require more liveable space or you did your homework and came to the conclusion that this is a great financial investment. So how do you find a reputable ADU company that will build an awesome ADU on time and on budget? Here are 8 important considerations:
Remember the old days when we looked up companies in the Yellow Pages and had to call each one to narrow down who we wanted to use? (Am I revealing that I was born in 19XX?!?!) Now it’s so much easier to research a company than calling a list of phone numbers or asking around in hopes that someone has heard about that business, much less used them. So what does the ADU builder’s Google or Yelp reviews reveal about them? Are they courteous, on time, and leave a wake of happy customers or are clients complaining about work being left poorly done or unfinished? This is an easy Step 1: do your online research.
Customer service isn’t what it used to be. (Really, I’m not 80 years old but I sure sound like it!) When you called or emailed your potential ADU builder, did they respond back within 24 hours or were you left waiting and wondering? If they didn’t respond at the beginning of the relationship, then you may want to move to the next name on the list. They may be too busy and can’t respond or good communication is not their strong point. Either way, this is a big red flag for too important a project.
Knowledge, Experience, and Professionalism
My husband and I recently purchased a new build home and interviewed about ten different professionals to landscape our dirt yard. I can tell you that each company and salesperson was completely different. The first representative came to our home and gave us an extravagant bid. When we said it was more than our budget he offered to do it himself as a side job for half the price. Um…. no. The second guy assessed our backyard, gave us a bid, and then we never heard from him again. No follow up and he didn’t return our calls. Next! Then we had the sketchy sales guy, the newbie who was guessing at timelines and costs, and the guy who said he was too busy to work on our small backyard with some other unmemorable interviewees in between. Finally we had a landscaper who was a real guy who shared what he would do if it was his yard and gave us a real plan. Phew! Do your homework so you can have confidence in your ADU builder. Ask the hard questions so they know you mean business and so you know that they are the experts they claim to be. And trust your gut. If you don’t have a good feeling then there usually is a good reason for it.
Not All ADUs are the Same
ADUs are a newer term and you’ll soon see that they can range from $11,000 to $350,000+. That’s a HUGE cost difference! So let’s break these numbers down. Big box companies like Home Depot are advertising ADU kits that start at around $11,000. HOWEVER, this is for a steel frame building kit. This doesn’t include the slab, labor to put it together, appliances, walls, flooring, cabinets, electrical, plumbing, roofing, and all the other parts that will actually make it usable. An ADU kit is NOT an ADU builder and may cost you more in time, hassles, and money in the long run than a true ADU builder who knows their product and the process from start to finish.
ADU companies and ADU builders tend to offer prefab ADUs which are parts made in a factory and assembled onsite. This means that the walls and cabinets are built in the factory, delivered to the home, and then assembled like a puzzle. This drives costs down for you and speeds up the process (as opposed to designing a custom small backyard home). The ADU builder tends to have around four or five floor plans for you to choose from. Your needs, the layout of your backyard, and your budget are important factors that could determine which ADU builder you choose.
In our new backyard, we added a pool. The company we chose had a clear timeline and communication system so we knew where we were in the process, the chain of command, when payments were due, and more. We also had a project manager who would text us back immediately and would tell us the day before when he would be at our home and what tasks were going to be done that day. Of course there were hiccups along the way, but we knew they were being addressed and it would be taken care of. An ADU builder has to work the same way; you don’t want a great ADU but a headache of a process and you don’t want nice people who deliver a bad product. You need a proven process of communication that delivers a stellar experience from start to finish.
What Project Gaps Do You Need to Fill In?
As we discussed earlier, an ADU kit offers the framework. That’s it. But does your ADU builder offer landscaping, help applying for permits, home value reports, rental guidelines, and more? There is so much more to building an ADU than just building an ADU! If you don’t have connections with these professionals and your ADU builder doesn’t have recommendations, then you just added more stress to the project.
Choose ADU Warehouse
ADU Warehouse is a partnership of professionals who strive to offer affordable housing to the masses. We represent multiple ADU companies so that you can choose the floorplan that is right for you (which means more options!). We also work with real estate agents, insurance agents, lenders, and landscapers to give you a full service experience. Unlike most ADU builders, we also help guide you through the permit process so ensure that every step is done correctly. Questions? We’ll respond quickly and thoroughly to make sure that you are confident in your investment. Call ADU Warehouse today!